Eastern Martial Arts Meet Piano Pedagogy: Bringing Taijiquan Insights and Practice to Piano Preparation and Performance
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Taijiquan is a Chinese martial art based on developing internal power by accumulating and controlling energy. The practice of Taijiquan can be applied to piano playing and teaching. Specific emphasis is placed on sitting position, breathing, maintaining focus, locating tension, and effectively balancing harmful tension in the body. Studies in complementary and integrative medicine including those by Dr. Roger Jahnke emphasize the neurological benefits of the study of Taijiquan. Some psychological exercises emphasize related forms of visualization and breathing relaxation. Similarly, Alan Fraser integrates the sensation of sitting position on the piano bench with Taijiquan form. All of this points to aspects of Taijiquan toward increased effectiveness in the practice room. One of its primary philosophical concerns is the interrelationship and coexistence of Yin and Yang. Incorporating the Yin and Yang into piano performance can bring the practitioner into a more balanced state by redirecting harmful energy. The practice of Taiji Qigong—slow, rhythmic and powerful breathing exercises to help increase the body’s energy can bring focus to the mind and bring positive energy that maximizes the effectiveness and success in practice sessions. The use of the “push hands” Taijiquan exercise can prevent the accumulation of harmful physical tension in practice and performance. This project demonstrates the application of Taiji Qigong and the “push hands” Taijiquan to piano performance.This thesis uses Qigong breathing techniques and “push hands” Taijiquan-based, upper-body exercises, to argue that aspects of Taijiquan may be effectively integrated into the pianist’s repertoire of mental and physical preparation toward a more holistic approach. These techniques can introduce the integration of Eastern meditative practices that can have lifelong value, enabling one to experience a more calm and enjoyable experience.